Yvonne De Carlo may not have been a Bette Davis or a Katherine Hepburn, but for the audience of that time her appeal was irresistible. A tribute.

During the 1940s and '50s some Hollywood actors such as Dorothy Lamour, Maria Montez and Yvonne De Carlo were popular in India. Although as actors they were not as great as Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn, they sizzled on screen and had a sizeable fan following in India. Yvonne De Carlo was curvaceously charming. The slit, period costumes she wore in most of her films electrified the audience of the past. She passed away in Los Angeles on January 8. She was 84.Born Margaret Yvonne Middleton on September 1, 1922 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to an aspiring but disappointed actor, whose husband abandoned the family when the future star was barely two. The mother, who supported the family working as a waitress in restaurants, taught Yvonne dancing, singing, and modelling. After moving to Los Angeles, the mother managed to get some chorus dance parts for Yvonne.

Small parts

Yvonne De Carlo appeared in small parts in major movies with no credit such as `This Gun For Hire' (Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, based on a novel "A Gun For Sale" by Graham Greene), `Kismet' (Marlene Dietrich and Ronald Colman), `For Whom The Bell Tolls' (Gary Copper and Ingrid Bergman, based on the best-selling novel by Ernest Hemingway), `Road To Morocco' (Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour). De Carlo's major success came in 1945 when she played the lead in `Salome, Where She Danced.' Not a critical success, but it did well at the box office and Yvonne was hailed as a star in the making. She said about her role, "I came through these beaded curtains, wearing a Japanese kimono and a Japanese headpiece, and then performed a Siamese dance. Nobody seemed to know quite why." She played major roles in over 100 movies and some of them made a mark critically and at the box-office. Some of her movies, which created an impact are: `River Lady' (1948), `Song of Scheherazade' (1947), `Hotel Sahara' (1951, her co-star was the inimitable Peter Ustinov) and `Crises-Cross' (1949), a tautly told tale of an armed car guard (Burt Lancaster) who cannot forget his divorced wife (Yvonne De Carlo) and when he goes after her he is shocked to find that she is dangerously involved with the gangsters of Los Angeles.Her most popular film, which had a long run in Madras and other parts of India, was `Casbah' (1948). It was a musical remake of the Hollywood hit movie `Algiers' (1938, Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr) which in turn was the remake of the French crime movie classic `Pepe le Moko' (1936). In it, Yvonne played a jewel thief-gangster's moll and the gangster was the singing star of yesteryears Tony Martin. Many of the songs rendered by Martin became hits and one of them, "For every man there's a woman... " was a super hit. Another major movie was `Band of Angels' (1957) about the American Civil War. It had the inimitable Clark Gable as a slave trader who buys a woman (Yvonne De Carlo). The noted filmmaker Raoul Walsh directed the film. Yvonne then entered the world of television and did the successful series, `The Munsters' (1964-65). She played Lady Munster. The title was a play on the word, `Monster'! Yvonne was once married to a stunt actor. Her tell-all, bare-all autobiography proved a sensational best-seller. In it she mentioned 22 of her lovers. The impressive list included Howard Hughes, Burt Lancaster, Billy Wilder, Clark Gable, Robert Taylor, Robert Stack and Prince Aly Khan. Advancing age, health problems forced her to retire and the death of a son added to her sorrows. She lived in a home for retired actors in Woodland Hills near Los Angeles. And the end came some days ago... To moviegoers of her time, Yvonne De Carlo was an unforgettable symbol of allure.